The 12 best Android TV games to play with a gamepad

Get the console experience with these great games and a controller.

androidtv gamepad games lead

Game on!

If you have an Android TV device and you’re not using it for console-style gaming, you’re really missing out. Whether it’s a set-top box or a TV powered by Google’s platform, Android TV lets you experience all sorts of great big-screen games: revitalized console classics, standout indie games, and even mobile originals enhanced by the living room setting.

But you’ll need a proper game controller. While some games are playable with a remote, many of the best Android TV titles require a gamepad—or are dramatically better with one. Don’t have an Android gamepad? Here are 12 awesome games that might convince you to grab one, and it’s just the tip of the iceberg for Android TV fun. Keep an eye out, however: Google may let you use your phone as an Android TV gamepad in the future, which could save some cash.

Note: The Nvidia Shield TV has an exclusive batch of additional games—including Half-Life 2, Portal, and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel—available that aren’t playable on other Android TV boxes, so we’ve excluded them from this list.

androidtv gamepad games soulcalibur

Soulcalibur

Fighting games just don’t feel the same without the rapid-fire precision and physical response of a real gamepad, although some fighters are still fun with virtual touchscreen buttons. That’s the case with Soulcalibur on phones and tablets, but this beloved 3D fighter is significantly elevated on Android TV with a real controller in hand.

While there have been newer and prettier versions of the series on console, the original Soulcalibur from arcade and Dreamcast is still a blast, letting you battle an array of weapon-wielding combatants against each other. The game runs smooth and sharp on your TV, and the button controls are fluid and responsive. It’s a classic that still holds up, even at that slightly bulging price point.

Soulcalibur ($14)

androidtv gamepad games implosion

Implosion: Never Lose Hope

On mobile devices, Implosion: Never Lose Hope does a startlingly great job of taking the console hack-and-slash genre and making it work well with touch controls. It’s little surprise, then, that the addition of a gamepad makes this mobile original seem just like it came from a PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360. 

Implosion comes across a bit like Capcom’s Devil May Cry series, blending combo-heavy sword slashing with gunplay and special attacks, only here you’re commanding a mech suit and powering through mutant-filled corridors. It looks excellent on a TV, plays just as well with analog sticks and buttons in the fray, and offers a meaty campaign along with bonus challenges to tackle.

Implosion: Never Lose Hope (Free; $10 full game unlock)

androidtv gamepad games zenpinball

Zen Pinball

You might not have the cash or space to ever own a real pinball table, but you can toss a pretty convincing facsimile on your TV thanks to Zen Pinball. As on touch devices, Zen Pinball lets you tap into a library full of original digital tables, each priced at a couple bucks apiece for unlimited play (no quarters needed!) and acting much like a physical table.

Clicking triggers or shoulder buttons to control the flippers feels more like the real thing than tapping sides of a touch screen, and Zen Pinball has dozens of tables available to purchase. Licensed tables include some from Star Wars (The Force Awakens seen above), Marvel, South Park, and even Valve’s physical puzzler Portal, but there are many others in the mix too.

Zen Pinball (Free)

androidtv gamepad games walkingdead

The Walking Dead

Whatever your remaining interest in The Walking Dead TV series after its controversial twists and turns, there’s another franchise experience you can enjoy on your television: Telltale’s episodic The Walking Dead game series. It’s a separate story from the show and comics, but it delivers a seriously gripping and powerful story where you have to make all of the tough decisions.

You’ll make life-or-death calls and shape your relationships via dialogue choices along the way, and every little bit tweaks the narrative all the way through the ending. It’s a real gut-punch at times, but in a way that’ll keep you coming back. And there’s plenty to play: two complete five-episode seasons, along with a side series based on TV and comic favorite, Michonne (shown). 

The Walking Dead: Season One (Free; $15 full game unlock)
The Walking Dead: Season Two (Free; $15 full game unlock)
The Walking Dead: Michonne ($5)

androidtv gamepad games nbajam

NBA Jam

EA Sports resuscitated one of the greatest sports franchises of all time for mobile, but toss it back on your TV with a gamepad and NBA Jam will surely bring back a flood of memories from the early ‘90s. Granted, the graphics are a lot better these days, but the arcade-style fun of this two-on-two hoops favorite remains fully intact in the modern revision. 

All 30 teams are here with both current and classic players, and your super-deformed two-man-crew must dunk and deflect their way to victory. NBA Jam has a campaign mode, online action, and even a local multiplayer mode where your opponent plays on a phone or tablet while you battle from the TV. At just $5, it’s a steal. 

NBA Jam ($5)

androidtv gamepad games starwarskotor

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

It’s been 13 years since Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic released on Xbox and PC, but to many fans, there hasn’t been a better Star Wars game since—or before, for that matter. This sprawling role-playing quest lets you create your own hero and make decisions that push you towards either the light or dark side of the Force.

Will you be a Jedi or Sith? That’s your path to forge across dozens of hours of combat, dialogue, and exploration. Beloved developer BioWare (Mass Effect) designed Knights of the Old Republic back when, and Aspyr’s sharp Android port keeps the entire epic intact. It was built for a gamepad back when, and no surprise, it still plays best on one now. While the game shows its age in some respects, it remains a must-play for Star Wars die-hards. 

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic ($10)

androidtv gamepad games hotlinemiami

Hotline Miami

Hotline Miami looks like an NES-era 8-bit game, but you’ve never played anything quite like this. This acclaimed indie—which isn’t available on touch devices—finds you in the role of a contract killer, sent to perform quick and dirty jobs while hopefully making it out alive. Each level finds you bursting into a room filled with bad guys and tactically taking them down. And one wrong move means starting all over.

Even with the chunky graphics, Hotline Miami is absolutely brutal: it’s outrageously violent and totally deranged, but also intensely entertaining. And the lo-fi look is expertly executed, with a perfectly pulsing soundtrack to match. If you can stomach the weird and wildly over-the-top approach, you’re in for a treat (plus sequel Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number is available). 

Hotline Miami ($10)

androidtv gamepad games octodad

Octodad: Dadliest Catch

You won’t find a wackier game on the Play Store than Octodad: Dadliest Catch—yes, “Dadliest.” It’s the tale of a suburban husband and father who just happens to be an octopus in disguise, but his carefully constructed façade is starting to crumble. His (human) wife and kids are suspicious, and worst of all, there’s a knife-wielding chef out to get him. 

As the octopus father himself, you must blend in during common human events: getting married, grocery shopping, and even visiting the aquarium. Octodad’s controls are appropriately slippery, making it awkward to walk, precisely handle items, and perform human tasks with bright yellow tentacles, but that’s precisely why it’s so hilarious and memorable. 

Octodad: Dadliest Catch ($5)

androidtv gamepad games geowars3

Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions

Arcade-style blasting is at its best in Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions, and it’s a game that really calls out for a pair of analog sticks. On phones, Dimensions offers an auto-fire mode to make the game easier to enjoy on a touchscreen, but the added precision of the sticks—one to move your little ship and the other to fire lasers in any direction—makes it so much more fun.

Dimensions amps up the Geometry Wars experience with a campaign that includes more than 100 missions, keeping things lively by alternating play styles, throwing in curveballs, and pitting you against tricky bosses. However, the classic modes from the prior Xbox entry also remain, letting you shoot for high scores across an array of very distinct arcade modes.

Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions ($10)

androidtv gamepad games ff6

Final Fantasy VI

More than two decades and several entries in the series later, Final Fantasy VI is still considered by many to be the best of the legendary role-playing games. The Super Nintendo classic has been tweaked and updated for Android, with refreshed graphics and added content, but you can still experience it much like the old days—with a gamepad in hand—on Android TV.

Thankfully, Final Fantasy VI is a completely standalone tale that requires no knowledge of the series, and the emotional narrative, steampunk world, and large cast of characters have helped it endure after all this time. It’s a huge, engrossing single-player adventure, and you don’t have to fumble through awkward touchscreen menus when playing on TV with a controller. It’s still well worth savoring.

Final Fantasy VI ($16)

androidtv gamepad games olliolli

OlliOlli

Got fond memories of a classic skateboarding game? Whether it’s Skate or Die, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, or Skate, you owe it to yourself to try out OlliOlli. This indie gem is a simpler affair than most modern extreme sports experiences, as it’s a purely side-scrolling game with pixel graphics. Still, it’s a challenging and rewarding game that requires plenty of precision.

Across 50 levels, you’ll try and create massive trick and grind combos by chaining together moves between obstacles, but get too ambitious or sloppy and you’ll get a face full of asphalt. Luckily, as with real skateboarding, the more you play (and fail), the better you’ll become. And there’s a more vibrant sequel, OlliOlli 2: Welcome to Olliwood, to tackle afterwards.

OlliOlli ($13)

androidtv gamepad games gtalcs

Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories

If you’ve enjoyed Grand Theft Auto games in the past, you probably don’t need a lot of convincing to download a full-fledged entry on your Android TV for seven bucks. Liberty City Stories might not be one of the best-known games in the series—it’s an enhanced port of a Sony PSP spinoff of GTA III—but it’s still plenty fun even a decade later.

Like the other Grand Theft Auto games of the era, Liberty City Stories is all about establishing your character in the criminal underground, which you’ll do by completing a wide array of missions. However, it’s just as fun (if not more so) to spend hours and hours causing chaos in the open city, whether it’s stealing cars, picking fights, or taking on side jobs.

Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories ($7)